Do you feel as if you're spending too much time or money gambling? Or, are you using money set aside for other important things like your rent or bills?
If this is the case, then it might be time to consider a self-exclusion period.
Not sure what that is or how to do it? Don't worry, we're here to help take you through everything you need to know about GamStop and other services to get your gambling habits back under control.
GamStop is a free national online self-exclusion scheme launched by the Remote Gambling Association. It’s operated by The National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme Limited – a not-for-profit organisation.
GamStop gives those who access online gaming sites or apps the power to self-exclude themselves simultaneously from all participating online gambling operators in the UK.
Put simply, GamStop is a one-stop self-exclusion solution. Rather than having to go to each individual site, GamStop will exclude you from all UK licensed gambling sites in one swoop, whether you hold an account with them or not. It really is that easy.
You can choose to self-exclude for a period of six months, one year or five years.
Once you've signed up to GamStop, you’ll no longer be able to access any of your accounts.
You’ll also be removed from marketing databases so that the online gaming companies will no longer be able to contact you.
GamStop doesn't only provide self-exclusion from the sites where you currently have open accounts, but even from the ones you don't.
So, if you feel tempted to sign up to a site where you've never held an account during your self-exclusion period, your request will be denied.
It only takes a few minutes to sign up with GamStop and start the self-exclusion process.
Simply head to GamStop and provide a few details that will help them confirm your identity. These include your postcode, date of birth and email address.
Make sure that you provide them with any email addresses that you've used to sign up for online gaming sites.
The process should only take a few minutes, but can take up to 24 hours to take effect – please be aware of this when you sign up.
It’s important to understand that self-exclusion with GamStop will only apply to those UK gambling sites that have registered with the service. You can find a list of companies that are participating here.
You should also be aware that once you’ve self-excluded, this process can’t be reversed. You’ll be unable to use your accounts or set up new ones until the self-exclusion time period is over.
Your accounts will also not automatically be reopened. If you want access to your accounts once the self-exclusion is finished, then you’ll need to go back to GamStop and inform them that you want to be removed.
If you want to self-exclude from online gaming sites which are not registered with GamStop, you must contact each of these companies individually. As responsible lenders, they have a duty to offer you the option to self-exclude.
You should be offered the same terms of self-exclusion such as a six month, one year or five year period, but they can vary.
The sites will also prevent you from signing up for any new accounts with them during that selected period. As with GamStop, your accounts will not be automatically reopened at the end of the exclusion period.
It should be noted that later this year, all online gambling websites will be required to join by the Gambling Commission.
It's not always easy to recognise your own limits, but here are some tips to help:
There are other practical ways in which you can put a barrier between you and gambling.
You can install software such as ad blockers which will reduce the amount of advertising you see online, including advertisements from online gaming sites.
You can also install gambling specific software such as Gamban which will block online gaming sites on all computers, tablets, and phones you have access too.
If you have online gaming apps on your phone or tablet, take the first steps and delete those apps.
You can also unfollow any online gaming sites on social media and unsubscribe from their emails.
If you feel as though online gaming is starting to create problems in your life then it’s important that you seek external help.
You can call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 to receive confidential support and information. You can also get online support from Gamblers Anonymous by visiting their website.
Rachael is a freelance writer with a particular interest in online gaming. As an enthusiastic online bingo roomie, Rachael enjoys writing about the history of the UK's favourite game as well as discovering the latest trends.
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